Johann Kresnik

Johann Kresnik | Photo © Bettina Stöß

Throwing the body into the fight: A quote from Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini declared choreographer Johann Kresnik his motto.

Starting his career in the 1970s, he soon rose to become one of the leading choreographers in German dance theatre with works of highly symbolic, politically motivated, physically demanding weighty body language.

Born in Austria in 1939, he studied theatre and dance until his first engagement in Bremen in 1959. In 1960 he was engaged as a dancer in Cologne, where he danced repertoire by George Balanchine or John Cranko until 1968. In 1968 he was appointed director of the Bremen Dance Ensemble, where he created pieces such as “War Instructions for Everyman” or his own version of “Swan Lake”, set in the world of brutal capitalist competition, in the wake of the war in Vietnam. From 1979 he directed the dance theatre in Heidelberg, where he choreographed his first pieces based on biographies, for example “Sylvia Plath”.

Back in Bremen from 1989, he created masterpieces there such as his work on the German terrorist “Ulrike Meinhof”. In 1994 he moved to the Volksbühne Berlin. Since 2003 he has worked with his ensemble at the Staatstheater Bonn. So far he has created over 30 choreographies.


(Gabriele Wittmann)

Dance encyclopaedia links



Bremer Tanztheater


German Dance Theatre

Stage works / video clips:

Family Dialogue | Choir: Johann Kresnik, 1979

Ulrike Meinhof | Chor.: Johann Kresnik, 1990

Wendewut | Chor.: Johann Kresnik, 1993